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IT’S ONE THING to show talent. It’s another to exude class.

After doing the first last night for 32 minutes, Sam Prescott promised to do the latter for the next 4 years.

Prescott, star wing guard at Imhotep Charter, has signed with Marist. Denzel Yard, franchise point guard for Franklin Learning Center, is bound for Siena.

Both schools are members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. They’ll do battle at least eight times, not counting any tournament meetings.

“I’m proud of what I did tonight,” Prescott said. “But I’m never going to tease him about it.”

It’s called respect. And it’s definitely warranted.

Prescott spoke those words last night on the middle of the floor at Temple’s Liacouras Center, holding an MVP trophy and trying to raise his voice above the roars of excited supporters.

Title time!

“I knew this was going to happen,” he said several times. “I knew it from the beginning of the season.”

Good thing he did. Because as the Public League final wound down, no one else did.

Imhotep, which earlier appeared a sure bet to coast home, never lost its lead, but the heart rates of players, coaches and fans definitely soared and at least a hint of a lump appeared in some guys’ throats.

The difference-maker? Sam Prescott. The energetic kid who’s known as “Speed Racer.”

Prescott totaled 24 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, logged two steals and rejected three shots as Imhotep, a 5-year Pub member, triumphed by a 49-43 score, thus claiming its first championship.

He shoehorned 11 of those points into the fourth quarter, thanks mostly to a 9-for-14 performance at the foul line.

As for Yard . . . All the lefty did was score 24 points of his own, while adding two assists and three steals. Ten of his markers were packed into the final stanza, and his heroics included a pair of threeballs. For the game, he was the only Bobcat with more than one field goal.

“Denzel’s a good friend of mine,” Prescott said. “What a player. What he does for that team . . . It’s amazing.”

Prescott, with occasional help from sub Kenny Battle, covered Yard for much of the game. He tried his best to contain him and, through three quarters, Yard owned only 14 points in largely unspectacular fashion. Likewise, his team was sputtering along.

The bright side? After some impressive early moments, so was Imhotep. People around the city and suburbs were changing channels from the Comcast Network’s coverage by the second. Well, they should have stuck around.

“We made things so difficult for ourselves,” Imhotep coach Andre Noble said. “We didn’t get much production from guys who usually give us a lot.”

Said Prescott: “Hey, basketball’s a game of runs. Back and forth. That’s how it goes. We wanted to get through without them coming back on us, but . . . ”

Little by little, FLC eased back into contention. The comeback reached oh-my-goodness status with 42.4 showing, when Yard mad-bombed a right-corner three to make it 43-42.

Two things happened.

“When I saw that one-point difference,” Prescott said, “I knew it was time to put the team on my shoulders. I mean, we have a great team and we all contributed, like always, but I’m a senior leader and the guys look up to me, so . . . ”

Meanwhile, senior point guard Parrish Grant (10 points, five assists, two steals) was making a proclamation of his own. Not to himself. To Noble.

“I asked to cover Denzel,” Grant said. “I just had to make things difficult for him. That’s my buddy. We were talking almost up until the time the game began. But for us to win, I knew we couldn’t let him hurt us anymore.”

Down the stretch, Prescott added six more points with free throws.

“Everybody was nervous,” he said. “I tried to stay calm and at least I made most of them.”

Grant backed up his request by forcing Yard into the game’s most crucial turnover. He ran at Yard, and the result was a leaping pass almost the entire width of the court. Jamal Jones intercepted and the Bobcats, the very definition of heart and soul thanks to Yard, were toast.

With the win, Grant likely earned an all-alone spot in Pub annals. He’s believed to be the only guy to start for championship teams at two schools. He first earned a title at Prep Charter in 2007. Last year, Velton Jones had become the first player to start for title teams in different leagues – North Catholic in ’08 after Simon Gratz in ’06.

“I was thinking about how I could be making history,” Grant said. “Maybe I put some extra pressure on myself. I had to keep my head straight.”

Now, like Prescott, he’ll maintain his class when speaking with Yard.

“He’s a great player,” Grant said. “He always shows that.”

Instant classic.

That’s the best way to describe what happened yesterday at Malvern Prep.

When Travis Robinson made a layup with five seconds remaining in overtime, the Friends’ Central boys’ basketball team all but clinched the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament title.

A desperation three-pointer by Germantown Academy’s Cameron Ayers rimmed out at the buzzer, and the jubilant Phoenix escaped with a 60-58 overtime victory.

“I knew I was going to finish,” Robinson said of his game-winner. “I had to. I had to step up for my team.”

The victory enabled Friends’ Central, ranked No. 9 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, to finish the season at 28-2. Germantown Academy ended its season at 25-6.

If not for Robinson and Malique Killing, the Patriots could have been the players celebrating a victory.

Killing, a reserve point guard, hit a three-pointer to knot the score, 58-58, with 20 seconds remaining in overtime.

On the ensuing possession, Killing stripped the ball from a Germantown Academy guard near the Patriots’ foul line. Robinson got it, raced up the court, and scored the decisive layup.

The junior shooting guard finished with a team-high 21 points. He scored six of Friends’ Central’s nine overtime points.

Sophomore guard Devin Coleman, who forced overtime with a pair of free throws, added 17 points.

Senior center Jeff Holton (24 points) and Ayers (14) led Germantown Academy.

In the girls’ championship game, Germantown Academy defeated Notre Dame Academy, 65-39, in an all-Inter-Ac League final.

The Patriots, ranked third in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, finished with a 31-0 record.

The eighth-ranked Irish finished the season at 24-7. Three of Notre Dame’s losses were against Germantown Academy.

Yesterday, the Patriots were led by junior guards Maggie Lucas and Jesse Carey.

Lucas scored a game-high 21 points, while Carey added 17. Read the rest of this entry »

The late, great Walt Montford once went for 42 points and 21 rebounds for Atlantic City in a game against Camden.

Camden won anyway. In overtime.

That was in 1975, when Camden was the champion of the South Jersey North and Atlantic City was the champion of the South Jersey South, and the two teams played in the conference title game in front of an overflow crowd at Bishop Eustace.

The great thing about yesterday’s renewal of one of South Jersey’s richest rivalries wasn’t just that Camden and Atlantic City were together on the basketball court again after 12 years.

It was that officials from both programs vowed to make this game a regular event.

“We want to bring back the history,” Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said after his team scored an impressive 65-51 victory over Camden in the Cherry Hill Invitational. “It’s good for our community and good for their community. We want to bring back the glory days.”

Things are different now. Camden is a Group 2 program, while Atlantic City still is in Group 4. For stretches yesterday, this game looked like a matchup of a good Group 2 team against a good Group 4 team, as Atlantic City dominated in the paint.

“They controlled the backboards,” Camden coach Mike Stargell said.

Still, there was something special in the air at Cherry Hill East. A near-capacity crowd included old-timers who remembered the best days of the rivalry, and reminded a few of the current players of the tradition between the teams.

“They were letting me know about it,” Atlantic City senior guard Umar Shannon said of some Camden supporters. “They were like, ‘You can’t shoot.’ I was like, ‘We’ll see.’ ”

Shannon led all scorers with 20, burying two three-point jumpers as the Vikings broke the game open early in the fourth quarter. The St. Francis (Pa.)-bound athlete said the game was special because of the history of the rivalry, even though the teams hadn’t played since 1997.

“We know all about it,” Shannon said.

For the longest time, it was one of South Jersey’s best rivalries, even though Camden seemed to hold an edge.

But because it had so many great players – from Montford to Leonard Hayes to Lou Roe to Willie Glass to Ralph Talley to Bobby Martin – Atlantic City always brought out the best in Camden.

Camden won that famous game in 1975 and also knocked Atlantic City out of the Group 4 state tournament six times between 1980 and 1991. But the Panthers’ best players in those days – from Bill Culbertson to Milt Wagner to Billy Thompson to Kevin Walls to Louis Banks to Victor Carstarphen – had to raise their games to meet Atlantic City’s challenge.

“I remember this rivalry from when I was a kid,” Allen said. “It was very exciting for our kids to get an opportunity to be part of it.”

It’s not the same. Nothing is the same.

But it still was great to see the two old powers on the same floor, to see the wooden bleachers crammed with old-timers and new fans, to get a sense of old times for 90 minutes on a February afternoon.

Same time, next year?

“We want to rekindle the history,” Stargell said. “We enjoyed each other today. We want to try to do this every year.”

(Original Source: Phil Anastasia)

Phil Anastasia To Camden coach Mike Stargell, it was simple. “They outplayed us in every aspect of the game,” Stargell said of Atlantic City, which scored an impressive 65-51 victory over Camden yesterday at Cherry Hill East’s basketball tournament. Senior guard Umar Shannon led Atlantic City (16-6) with 20 points, while sophomore forward Rashaun Rasheed scored 17. Camden senior swingman Aaron Walton-Moss, who entered the game as South Jersey’s leading scorer with a 26.8 average, was limited by foul trouble and managed just two points. “I’d rather lose now than in the state tournament,” Walton-Moss said. Camden (15-4) had won four in a row but never found its stride in a renewal of one of South Jersey’s richest rivalries in front of a near-capacity crowd at Cherry Hill East. Sophomore guard Takwail Bailey scored 17 and junior guard Vincent Walls added 13 for Camden. But Atlantic City controlled inside play behind 6-foot-6 Rodney Blount, 6-4 Muji McBride and 6-6 Jamiel Stewart. “We’ve been waiting to play a complete game,” Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said. “We go as our guards go, and the young fellow Rasheed has been coming along.” Atlantic City was in front, 35-30, at halftime and stretched its lead to 55-40 early in the fourth quarter as the 6-foot Shannon, who has signed with St. Francis (Pa.), hit a pair of three-point jumpers and made two other baskets. “This should build some momentum for us heading into the tournament,” Shannon said.

[]Atlantic City 18 17 15 15 – 65Camden 11 19 10 11 – 51

AC: Umar Shannon 20, Rodney Blount 8, Muji McBride 8, Rashaun Rasheed 17, Ibn Morgan 2, Jamiel Stewart 8, Leavander Jones 2.

C: Aaron Walton-Moss 2, Takwail Bailey 17, Vincent Walls 13, Devon Devine 9, Hubert Kahlil Mims 8, Darren Howard 2.


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223or panastasia@phillynews.com.

(Original Source: http://www.Philly.com)

The postseason is providing Harriton’s boys’ basketball team with a new life and the Rams are making the most of their extra days on the court.

The 12th-seeded Rams (8-16) strugged during the regular season, but have posted a couple of upsets in the posteason, the latest coming yesterday, a 59-50 win over No. 4 Marple Newtown in a District 1 Class AAA quarterfinal game at Conestoga.

They did it largely through the efforts of two players, Matt Fusara (25 points) and Kelvin Nance (22).

Harriton knocked off No. 5 seed Upper Perkiomen on Wednesday night.

Also at Conestoga, No. 1 Phoenixville overwhelmed No. 9 Pottstown, 59-51, getting 17 points from Yusuf Brown and 12 more from Gregory Peters. The Trojans’ Randall Purnell led all scorers with 27 points.

No. 2 Holy Ghost Prep easily broke the press of Springfield (Delaware County) in a 55-36 win. The seventh-seeded Cougars opened the third quarter with a full-court zone press, leading to numerous layups at the other end.

Nate Lorence scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to lead the Firebirds. Read the rest of this entry »

Though her concentration at the next level will be lacrosse, Kelli Joran has shown herself to be a versatile basketball player and an integral part of Downingtown East’s winning mix.

In yesterday’s PIAA District 1 Class AAAA quarterfinal against Central Bucks East, Joran did a little bit of everything to help the uncharacteristically sloppy Cougars overcome 16 turnovers and triumph, 47-42, at Colonial Elementary School.

The 5-foot-7 Joran, a third-year varsity player, provided 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three blocked shots.

“She’s a real good defender, a smart player, can attack the basket in a number of ways,” Downingtown East coach Bob Schnure said.

The second-seeded Cougars, 23-2 overall and ranked No. 4 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, will take on neighboring Downingtown West in a semifinal Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. The 11th-seeded Whippets (18-7) advanced yesterday with a 51-42 win over third-seeded Council Rock (22-3).

C.B. East, the No. 7 seed, moved into the consolation bracket. The Patriots (22-3) will face C.R. North.

Joran, who scored five points in the second quarter and five in the third, will play lacrosse at Drexel. A quality midfielder, she plans to major in sports management.

“I really like the school, the girls on the team,” said the 17-year-old from Exton. “And they have a good program in my major. It’s a good fit for me.”

Ro Gentry, a 5-11 junior, led the defending district champions in scoring. She shot 4 for 8 from beyond the three-point arc en route to 12 points.

Joran will be joined at Drexel by senior guard Biz Matta (10 points, four rebounds, two steals, one block), who will play soccer for the Dragons.

Early in the fourth quarter, on a three-point play by Madge Ross, C.B. East cut Downingtown East’s lead to 43-40. From there, though, the Suburban One League Continental Conference champion went nearly six minutes without scoring.

C.B. East committed six turnovers in the final eight minutes.

Caitlin Vasey led East with 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Ross (four assists) and Liz Martin (five rebounds) each netted seven points.

Central Bucks East 12 9 16 5 – 42

Downingtown East 19 8 16 4 – 47

CBE: Jaime Donovan 5, Liz Martin 7, Melissa Remmey 2, Madge Ross 7, Jordan Seiz 4, Caitlin Vasey 11, Kristina Pogue 4, Courtney McManus 2.

DE: Meghan Kerrigan 9, Biz Matta 10, Kristen Blye 6, Ro Gentry 12, Kelli Joran 10.


Contact staff writer Rick O’Brien at 610-313-8019

or robrien@phillynews.com.

(Original Source: http://www.Philly.com)

Ezell helps Deptford past Mainland

Erv Ezell made five of six foul shots in overtime, including two with 12 seconds left that lifted Deptford to a 78-76 win over Mainland yesterday in the Cherry Hill East Invitational boys’ basketball showcase.

The Spartans watched a five-point fourth-quarter lead disappear as Casey Dillon (23 points) helped Mainland rally to tie the game at 67 at the end of regulation.

Deptford outscored the Mustangs by 11-9 in the extra period. Ezell finished with 24 points, teammate John Lewis had 22 and each player hit four three-point baskets.

Also at East, Cherokee survived Holy Spirit’s comeback from a 13-point deficit to win, 54-53. Ronson Quick was fouled on a put-back attempt with 14 seconds left and made one of two foul shots to break a 53-53 tie.

Williamstown’s balanced offense of Marcus Hampton (13), Justin Chaney (10) and Kevin Booth (10) combined with a defense that held Shawnee’s Dave Westman to seven points, driving the Braves to a 53-43 victory.

Middle Township used a 30-19 second half to claim a 45-33 win over Burlington City. The Panthers’ Marcus Harmon led all scorers with 21 points.

After being outscored by 19-4 in the second quarter, Rancocas Valley came back with a 28-6 fourth period, including the first 16 points of the quarter, en route to a 66-49 win over Bishop Eustace. Nnamdi Njoku’s 19 points topped four Red Devils in double figures. Read the rest of this entry »

As time expired in the third overtime, the shot by Mark DiRugeris was as good as the rest of the season has been for his Woodbury basketball team.

DiRugeris’ three-pointer hit nothing but net, allowing Woodbury to pull out a dramatic 81-80 triple-overtime win yesterday over visiting Timber Creek in a game that had a playoff feel a little more than a week before the postseason begins.

Never mind that it improved Woodbury’s record to 21-1 and did nothing to discourage talk that the Thundering Herd are the solid favorites in the coming South Jersey Group 1 tournament.

The win came against a team that had something Woodbury didn’t – a spot in The Inquirer’s South Jersey Top 10. Timber Creek is No. 10.

Woodbury had dropped out of the top 10 after a 71-66 overtime loss to Group 3 Deptford on Jan. 31.

Despite Woodbury’s earlier win over an impressive Eastern team, there has been some skepticism in these quarters about the Thundering Herd because they have blown by their competition in the Colonial Conference, beating each opponent by 15 or more points.

And if anybody says the rankings may not mean that much, just listen to DiRugeris moments after scoring a single-game school record of 40 points and hitting the game-winner.

“The last few weeks we have been out of [The Inquirer] rankings and we felt disrespected,” DiRugeris said. “We feel like we have a good team.”

So does Timber Creek.

“Woodbury is as good as any team we have played,” said Timber Creek coach Tim Dunne, whose squad has faced top-10 teams such as Camden Catholic, Rancocas Valley, and Camden.

“They would be competitive with anybody in South Jersey.”

This game was a great playoff prep for both teams. Woodbury, which trailed by 13 points early in the third quarter, never stopped taking it to the Chargers.

Timber Creek also showed spunk, especially when 6-foot-4 senior Collin Johnson hit a three-pointer at the buzzer at the end of the first overtime, tying the score, 65-65.

Timber Creek led by 71-67 in the second overtime when Johnson was called for a foul and then assessed a technical foul when the officials said he fouled a player hard.

“He said I hit him after the whistle,” said Johnson, who fouled out at that point, with 27 points.

Woodbury hit four consecutive free throws and appeared to have momentum, but the Chargers sent it into a third overtime when Steve Moore’s layup tied the score, 73-73, with less than five seconds left.

Back and forth they went until finally DiRugeris sent the exhausted crowd, not to mention the players, home with his winning shot.

“It felt good when I took it,” said DiRugeris, who scored 18 of his 40 points in the three extra periods. “We pride ourselves on being one of the best-conditioned teams, and that came into play today.”

And from now on, Woodbury would just like to be considered a good team, not just a good Group 1 team.

It seems like a more-than-fair request, especially since the Thundering Herd just beat a team that will make life miserable for Group 3 schools.

“We don’t look at the [group] classifications,” Woodbury coach Ken Avent said. “We just feel we are a good team.”

Maybe better than that. And certainly one that shouldn’t be left out when tomorrow’s new rankings come out.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

IT’S NEVER too early to take a look at the postseason, so with that in mind, we’re gonna do just that and give our thoughts as to how things might play out in the South Jersey boys’ basketball tournament.

Non-public Group A

There is no more competitive group, period. When completely healthy, which it has been for a limited time this season, Camden Catholic is the best team in South Jersey. Yet, the Irish are only the fifth seed in this bracket and will have to travel to fourth-seeded St. Augustine (18-3). The winner of that will get top-seeded Holy Spirit.

Spirit (20-1), buoyed by the steady play of point guard B.J. Bailey, has been the model of consistency all season and has beaten many of the area’s top teams, including Shawnee, Rancocas Valley, Atlantic City, St. Augustine (by 23) and Lenape.

No. 2 seed St. Joseph, Metuchen and third-seeded Christian Brothers could come through with the title, and No. 7 Paul VI (13-7) poses a real danger with the one-two punch of Nick Moore and Robert Poole.

Still, the winner of this will have to go through Camden Catholic (17-4), the defending S.J. Group champion. With a healthy Gerry Wixted, Sherard Cadogan and Anthony D’Orazio, look for the Irish to repeat.

PICK: Camden Catholic

South Jersey Group 1

It’s really hard to figure anyone upsetting top-seeded Woodbury (19-1), with its terrific guard play from Mark DiRugeris and the slashing styles of Isaih and Jarred Roberts. Still, there are some intriguing teams here, none more so than fourth-seeded Pitman.

The Panthers (18-4) have a terrific inside-outside game with 6-7 Dylan Colgate and point guard Luke Dickson. The surrounding cast, which includes Marcus Corbitt and Kevin Gibbs, complements its top scorers extremely well. Pitman and No. 5 Glassboro (17-4) will face off in what should be a thriller. No. 2 Salem (15-5) is the defending champ and could pose a threat to Woodbury.

PICK: Woodbury

South Jersey Group 2

It seems so strange to think of Camden (15-3), a state power in Group 4 for so many years, playing in Group 2. But that’s where the Panthers are, and that’s not good news for the rest of the group.

Aaron Walton-Moss, the do-everything forward for Camden, can, and has, put this team on his 6-2 frame and made it win. He is unstoppable around the basket and his unorthodox way of getting shots off gives teams fits.

No. 2 Collingswood (14-7), the defending champ, had a very nice season under coach Joe McLoughlin even after suffering from graduation, and third-seeded Middle Township (13-5) is always a threat as long as coach Tom Ferraco is calling the shots.

PICK: Camden Read the rest of this entry »

It is a team with not much size and only one senior, but there probably are not many opponents who will relish meeting Haddonfield in the South Jersey Group 2 boys’ basketball tournament.

The Bulldogs are 17-6, have won three in a row and six of seven, and are guided by a veteran coach who knows how to navigate his way through the calendar when it hits March.

Now in his 10th season, coach Paul Wiedeman has guided Haddonfield to five sectional titles and three state championships.

This season, Wiedeman has had to adapt his philosophy because of the Bulldogs’ lack of height.

This is a team that strikes more from the perimeter and, if hot, Haddonfield can be competitive with anybody in Group 2, although Camden remains the prohibitive favorite and Willingboro is another dangerous team.

“We don’t have much size, so you have to adjust to your personnel, and this year’s team is taking more three-point attempts,” Wiedeman said after Haddonfield sank 11 of 21 three-point shots in Saturday’s 77-69 win over Pitman.

Haddonfield’s tallest player is also its oldest, 6-foot-4 senior Mike Steinberger.

“He plays as hard as anybody I have coached,” Wiedeman said. “He has taken 37 charges, and I don’t think I’ve had anybody take more than 10 before.”

Steinberger has extra incentive, knowing that any loss in the tournament will be his final high school game.

“We have a lot of good young players and this is my senior year, and I want to play as long as possible,” he said.

Wyatt Polk, a 6-3 sophomore who missed six games earlier this season with a hip pointer, is averaging a team-high 17.8 points per game. Classmate Anthony Parenti is a 5-11 guard who can stretch defenses with his shooting.

Sophomore twins Chris and Kevin Davis, have brought toughness to the backcourt.

“They are football players and bring that football mentality to the court,” Wiedeman said of the Davis brothers.

Haddonfield is still in the running for a share of the Colonial Conference Liberty title, but the Bulldogs need some help. Collingswood has clinched at least a share of the title and has a one-game lead with one game to play for both teams.

Haddonfield visits a 16-8 Overbrook team tomorrow. Collingswood is at Sterling (12-12). Read the rest of this entry »

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